CNBC Disruptor 50

24. Impossible Foods

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Founder: Pat Brown (CEO)
Launched: 2011
Headquarters: Redwood City, California
Funding:
$1.5 billion
Valuation: N/A
Industry:
Food
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 3 (No. 49 in 2020)

Persephone Kavallines

Impossible Foods has one big idea to tackle climate change: eliminate the need for meat from animals. The Redwood City, California-based company makes meat alternatives that taste and look like real beef and sausage to get consumers to change their eating habits and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. The company's flagship product is its Impossible Burger, which uses soy leghemoglobin — or heme — to mimic the taste and juiciness of a beef patty. Last year, Impossible also launched a sausage alternative.

To fund its quest, Impossible has raised about $1.5 billion since its founding in 2011. Notable investors include Bill Gates, Serena Williams and GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet.

The company first introduced its meat-free burger in restaurants more than five years ago. Now, more than 30,000 restaurant locations — including Starbucks and Burger King — carry its meat alternatives, up from 20,000 a year ago, even as the coronavirus pandemic devastated eateries. And a year and a half after bringing its plant-based meats to grocery stores, more than 17,000 retailers carry the products. As the company's distribution and production has grown, it has slashed prices, bringing the cost of its substitutes closer to traditional meat. 

Impossible plans to keep expanding its product portfolio and improving its current meat substitutes. In October, the company announced plans to double the size of its research and development team over the next year and shared a prototype of dairy-free milk.  

A public debut for the company could be coming. Reuters reported in April that the company is preparing to go public through an initial public offering or a merger with a SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company. Impossible is reportedly seeking a valuation of at least $10 billion, several billion dollars higher than the current market capitalization of its publicly traded rival Beyond Meat

Contributed by Amelia Lucas

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